Social Question

LuckyGuy's avatar

How do you talk with someone who laughs after he makes a normal comment?

Asked by LuckyGuy (40061points) May 18th, 2017

I was in a meeting and noticed one of the attendees, an adult in his 40s, laughed after everything he said. The comments were not funny nor was humor implied or appropriate.
Usually if someone tells a joke or makes a humorous statement I’ll smile or laugh along even if I’ve heard it a dozen times. But this seems different. Can it be a nervous tic?
I watched the rest of the group, a stodgy group of older PhDs, and no one else laughed or even smiled. That seemed a bit rude to me. I want the guy to feel comfortable but the laughing is just plain weird.
Should I smile or do a short forced low level chuckle – like one does when hearing a “knock knock” joke from a 5 year old nephew? Do I just ignore it an move on without cracking a smile?
What would you do?

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25 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m sure you’re right that it’s a nervous thing, but it’s a tic, not a tick, unless he’s got other health issues. Man, I’m just wondering how a nervous tick would act now, and that’s not funny at all.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@CWOTUS Corrected. Thanks for the catch. Nervous ticks are responsible for Lyme disease around these parts.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

It may be a way for him to release his nervous tension, which is something you alluded to in your OP. If he’s not also a PhD, he may be nervous being in a room full of them.

Or he may have heard of your interest in explosives.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake He’s the top guy in his field. Yes “THE”. There is no question about his skills. But the laughing drives me crazy. (I dare not ask the others.)
And as for the “ex.” interest, njot a person there does not have the same interest. ;-)

”“Oooo Let’s try a Cerium based thermite this time!”

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m at a stage in my life where not much “new stuff” is happening, or at least not at the pace things used to happen, or maybe I’ve just gotten better at dealing with it. Or ignoring it, one.

So I’m also not coming up with a lot of new material. Apologies if I’ve mentioned the incident below in the past, but it’s appropriate to this particular discussion.
I was once part of an Oracleâ„¢ HelpDesk team for a smaller corporate outfit that liked to consider itself very buttoned-down. But aside from appearances, they were not all that. One day towards the end of a calendar year the VP of Sales came down to talk to our boss, the VP of IT, and they stood in the center of our work area discussing important business, very seriously. Naturally, coming down on the end of the year, which was also, of course, the end of the quarter, it was important to close the books correctly and on time, but also to ensure that all of the current period’s sales were correctly booked and the financials sewn up just so.

And of course, this stuff was all managed by Oracle and our supported database.

So they concluded their meeting on how things were going to be taken care of just the way everyone needed, and the VP of Sales closed the impromptu meeting by reminding our boss that, “We can’t have any unplanned outages of the database this week!”

Naturally, I laughed out loud, because it was a great joke. Only it wasn’t. The guy looked daggers at me, like, “If Oracle goes down I’ll know that it was you who did it.”

He left the room, anyway, and I turned to our VP with a real question, “Does he not understand the concept of ‘unplanned outage’ with this system?” My boss just sort of sighed and shrugged his shoulders. It was that kind of outfit. Sometimes all you can do is laugh.

Pachy's avatar

Ignore it. It’s a not-unusual (at least in my experience) personality trait, probably covering insecurity.

Jeruba's avatar

I had a coworker who had this mannerism. She laughed after every single utterance. I never thought it was humor; I thought it was a nervous habit. I found it extremely irritating.

To make matters worse, she had the cubicle next to mine, and she talked to her sister on the phone every day. Through the entire conversation, her end of it was ”remark (laugh)...remark (laugh)...remark (laugh)” for as much as an hour at a stretch.

I didn’t think there was anything I could do but try to ignore it and just carry on. Nothing I could say or do was going to change her behavior (“Is everything really that funny, Lisa?”) and most likely would just earn me her enmity. In the close quarters of a cubicle farm, you want to get along with people.

The only other person I knew who did this was a young woman who was hard of hearing. I thought she was perhaps unconsciously establishing an alibi for everything she said, in case it was an inappropriate response to something she’d misheard: she could pretend she was joking. I found this easier to put up with than Lisa’s habit.

janbb's avatar

My computer science major son (#1) once said that the story told to women in computer science programs about the men is, “The odds are good but the goods are odd.” I would suspect this guy falls into that category. A nervous tic (or tick as the case may be) and most tactful thing is to ignore it.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Jeruba “Mannerism.” That is a much better word. Maybe it’s me but I just don’t find anything funny about, for example, active galactic nuclei.
My internal empathy meter tells me to smile or laugh along with him but it really ios inappropriate. I just bite my toungue.

@CWOTUS You were at least making/pointing out a humorous statement. This is way beyond that.

Mariah's avatar

God my MIL does this, it’s so uncomfortable! It has always seemed like an insecurity thing to me. I kinda just ignore it.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Mariah @Jeruba Doesn’t it seem rude to you to not smile along? I really have to control myself. It is so annoying.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

I’ve met people who laugh after everything they say, along with everything I say. It’s more than a little disconcerting if the matter at hand is serious or somber. (Me: “You might want to take back roads. There was a bad accident on the highway, and traffic’s not moving.” Other person: “Tee-hee, giggle, chuckle!”)

I think it’s simply a nervous habit – started because a person feels shy and awkward, but also very habit-forming. I doubt that the individual is even aware of the habit or its frequency.

LuckyGuy's avatar

So you all just ignore it and don’t play along? That seems safer.
I can do it but it is difficult for me. It just seems so rude to not chuckle along.

josie's avatar

A smile and a nod of the head seems to work for me in a lot of weird shit circumstances like you described.

Jeruba's avatar

@LuckyGuy, I’m used to being the one who doesn’t laugh—under all sorts of circumstances. I’m also often the only one who does laugh.

For instance, I used to be on a project team with a guy who issued a nonstop stream of wisecracks, no matter what was being said, and constantly upstaging whoever was talking. The laughs kept coming, but I refused to encourage him.

I’ve also been present at many a 12-step meeting where a speaker decided to play the subject for laughs, regardless of the fact that people come for help, not entertainment. I don’t crack a smile.

So yeah. I didn’t laugh or play along. I kept a straight face and responded to the content, not the delivery.

But when something really is funny (by my lights), I consider it my natural-born right to laugh, and I hold back only when I think it would hurt someone’s feelings if I didn’t.

si3tech's avatar

@LuckyGuy Pseudo bulbar affect causes inappropriate emotions. It could be something like you said, a nervous tic. I was in a class with a woman who laughed after everything she said. I wonder if they’re even aware that they are doing this. I am somewhat uncomfortable when I see this and try not to notice.

kritiper's avatar

Sounds like a nervous reaction. Try this: Every time he speaks, then starts to laugh, kick him in the shin and always the same spot on the shin.

CWOTUS's avatar

If nothing else, it might get him to stop talking.

janbb's avatar

Or laughing.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I should think that if his tick were nervous, it might run for cover. In that case, its chosen hiding place may have caused this man to feel giggly.

ucme's avatar

My advice would be this, laugh back adding a piggy snort at the end of each chuckle.
This should make them more aware or at the very least crave bacon, either way it distracts.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ucme Thanks! Now I’m craving bacon.

si3tech's avatar

@LuckyGuy @ucme Considering this MAY be something beyond their control, a neurological defect do you REALLY want to make fun of them? Or is a seizure something to joke about too?

LuckyGuy's avatar

@si3tech Don’t worry. We both would never do such a thing, I asked the question because I took it seriously.

ucme's avatar

I’m not going to be so polite @si3tech wind your neck in & stop crowdpleasing, it’s very unpleasant.

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